Entrepreneurial Spark | Business acclerator and startup progam
Entrepreneurial Spark is the world’s largest free business accelerator for start-up and scaleup businesses. Our vision it to inspire and enable positive social change through the action of Entrepreneuring.
Through our bespoke mindset-focused enablement programmes, Entrepreneurial Spark Powered by NatWest creates special every day. Special entrepreneurs doing special things: learning, growing, scaling, creating jobs and contributing to the UK economy.
To further enhance our reputation as the champion of UK entrepreneurs, co-founder Jim Duffy has decided to share some secrets and tips to help anyone think and act like an entrepreneur.
Our book Create Special is a must-read, not just for anyone interested in what we do at Entrepreneurial Spark but anyone who wants to take control of their life, to cope with problems and ultimately to grow.
If you want to find out how to channel your inner lobster or don your spacesuit for a shot at the moon, Create Special is the book for you.
If you recognise the need to grow your mindset, let Entrepreneurial Spark and Jim Duffy help you by showing you how to Create Special.
Locate your inner lobster with Create Special - YouTube
Be one of the first to purchase Create Special by clicking here.
As part of our work in championing the UK’s entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurial Spark Powered by NatWest loves to share expertise from our Enablers, the guys who work day in day out in our hubs.
In this blog, Newcastle Enabler Melissa Beckett shares some powerful insight on email marketing.
I work with small and growing businesses every day and recognise how important it is for them to connect and communicate with their customers in an effective and engaging way – a way that will raise awareness of their brand and help grow their business at the same time.
Young businesses have products and services they want to talk about, share, test and of course sell, but let’s be honest, all that can be confusing to articulate. Business owners are faced with a mountain of options of how to actually communicate their product or service well. One of the first and most common marketing channels I still see being utilised more than ever (which remains hugely effective given the advances in technology and social media platforms), is email marketing.
Email marketing can be highly effective for several reasons:
– It builds relationships with potential new customers and other stakeholders
– It is a vehicle for you to really add value, educate and nurture potential customers in your pipeline
– It allows you to demonstrate expertise in your industry
– It helps drive traffic to your website
– It’s a direct way to communicate with existing customers
– It’s great for brand awareness and a way to stay in touch/front of mind with your audience
– It helps you build new customer data lists
– It acts as a lead generation tool
– It helps builds brand loyalty
However, with your everyday consumer now only opening one in four emails they receive, there are some fundamental dos and dont’s that should be taken into consideration when planning an email marketing campaign, to ensure your emails cut through the noise and stand out from the others that will be landing in their inbox.
Do plan the content of your email and any web page that it may link to. Before throwing an email together, plan what you want to include in it. What’s your main objective? What primary messages do you want to communicate to your customers or prospects? What do you want the reader to do? Make it easy for them to act.
Do make your subject line concise, intriguing and factual. The subject line is one of the main reasons someone will use to decide to open or delete your email. It needs to be concise, real and interesting to the receiver. It shouldn’t be too long and shouldn’t include ‘spammy’ words such as ‘free’, as this could prevent it from even reaching your customers inbox.
Do make sure your ‘sender’ or ‘from’ name is correct and clear to the receiver. When we receive emails, the senders name appears before anything else, usually above the subject line. If this name appears to be ‘spammy’ or unsolicited, it’s likely your email will be disregarded as junk before the reader even thinks about opening it. Make sure your audience know it’s from you or your company.
Do include multiple ways to contact you back. Use a side bar or separate area within the email that includes icons and links. Don’t forget to include your social media links here too.
Do tailor your emails to different segments. If you send one blanket email to everyone it’s likely you’ll be sending very general emails with little impact, resulting in higher unsubscribe rates. By segmenting your data into specific groups, you’ll reach the goal of delivering the right message, to the right person, at the right time. You’ll notice a difference almost straight away, with less people unsubscribing and higher conversion/engagement rates.
Do test your emails before you send them. Send each version of the email to yourself and others before you send your email to customers.
Your subscribers will open emails on a variety of apps and devices, each with their own built-in quirks that affect how an email appears on their screens. Take a look at Litmus – this software allows you to see and test exactly how your emails look in the most popular email platforms and devices. Why is this useful? If you send an email to a potential customer and they’re not able to view it or it appears distorted on their screen, it doesn’t give the best impression of your company or brand and therefore they’re not likely to remember you or value your content.
Do track what’s working and what isn’t. How are your emails being received? What elements are working? What areas are being clicked on and read? What needs improvement? Look closely at what has worked previously and make adjustments where necessary. Email marketing is all about testing and tweaking. Pay attention to metrics such as open rate, click through rate, bounce rate and unsubscribes. Also, track which subject lines work as well as image and video placement. The more insight you have, the more relevant and strategic you can be next time. These metrics are available with any good email platform like MailChimp.
Do make your email distinctive and include your branding. Your audience need to know the email is from you just by looking at it. Ensure you include your branding from a consistent use of your brand colours, to a prominent logo. Don’t forget for a professional look you should include a header and a footer.
Don’t forget to test each link within the email by clicking on it yourself, including any of your social media links at the bottom, these are often missed.
Don’t use your email marketing just to sell. Your readers don’t just want to be sold to (there are already enough of those emails clogging up inboxes). People have a thirst for knowledge, so educate them, entertain them, provide them with something of value.
Don’t send irrelevant content. The content is the critical component of your email, don’t let it be an afterthought. Speak to your customers and potential customers. What do they want to read about? Why are they interested in your industry or business? Make sure you monitor which pieces of content do well.
Don’t forget about mobile. Over half of emails received today are viewed on mobile devices, so ensure you design them to display properly, on all formats. It can be quite detrimental to a brand if something as simple as an email isn’t displaying correctly.
Don’t spam, ever! Spamming is when you send someone an email who hasn’t given you permission to do so through email opt-in, and it’s illegal. Spamming cheapens your brand and can cause you and your business a huge headache.
Don’t use CAPITAL LETTERS. This is an easy one – nobody likes to be shouted at!
Don’t hide the unsubscribe link. By law you must consider marketing preferences. If your emails are targeted and the content is relevant for the audience receiving your emails, they won’t want to opt out. But if they do, they need to be able to, easily.
These are some of the fundamental dos and don’ts of email marketing. It’s easy to get overwhelmed but marketing is all about trialing and testing what works for your business, so I’d suggest using the above as a checklist and perhaps prioritise some of the quick wins. You’ll make a great impact with your customers and your brand by testing and implementing even a few of them.
Tip: use the same ‘build, test and learn’ methodology with your email marketing as you would in other aspects of your business.
Would you like to find out how to grow your mindset with Entrepreneurial Spark? Click here to find out more.
Do you want to locate your inner lobster? Or find out why moonshoots are not just for astronauts? Then Entrepreneurial Spark Powered by NatWest’s first foray into the world of publishing is definitely for you.
Co-founder and newly crowned head of #CreateSpecial Jim Duffy MBE has penned a brand new book which goes by the same name.
Available for pre-order now on Amazon.co.uk, the aim of Create Special is to help anyone think and act like an entrepreneur. The book will launch on Monday May 8 with pre-orders also landing that day.
In the book, Jim concentrates on:
•What it really means to be an entrepreneur – and how so many get this fatally wrong
•How to be enabled – and overcome any obstacle that gets in the way
•The secret methods of unbelievable focus – and the incredible rewards that ﬂow from it
•How entrepreneurs deal with risk, uncertainty and volatility
•How to gain and maintain the right mindset as an entrepreneur – and be truly authentic
•What the right kind of entrepreneurial discipline looks like – and how to build it day by day
•Why all entrepreneurs should shoot for the moon and what to do when they get there
Jim has also created a website for Create Special, a veritable treasure trove of tips and tricks for budding entrepreneurs and those interested in the book.
Reviewers have been quick to praise Jim’s witty, no-nonsense approach and the simple power of the book. Author and well-known public speaker Tony Robinson OBE, said: “Anyone can learn how to develop new, more effective ways of thinking and acting as an entrepreneur as a result of this short, no-holds-barred book.”
Steven Smith, Founder of Poundland and One Price Shopping said: “This book is an easy read and gets you to think a lot about yourself and the way you could change to create something very special. All you have to do is to change your mindset, believe in yourself and things will start to turn around.”
Jim Duffy said: “I founded Entrepreneurial Spark to build an army of entrepreneurs in the UK. This book, Create Special is about some of things I’ve learnt on that journey. The big thing is that anyone can use an entrepreneurial mindset to develop business and life skills. That might sound like business-speak but I passionately believe it and can prove it. Anyone can think and act like an entrepreneur.
“This isn’t Dan Brown, there are no codes or keys and no dark arts. Create Special simply shows how to think and act like an entrepreneur. How to become unbelievably focused and deal with risk and uncertainty through developing authenticity. You should be shooting for the moon in whatever you do, Create Special will show you what to do when you get there.”
With its razor-sharp style and action-focused content Create Special promises to be the book of the summer for 2017. To pre-order yours visit Amazon.co.uk now and launch your own moonshot mindset.
Internet Anywhere, a start-up which graduated from the Entrepreneurial Spark Powered by Royal Bank of Scotland hub in Glasgow hit the headlines this week.
Their USP is making fast, affordable connections the norm for remote places in the UK.
Run by John Fitzgerald, a telecoms engineer, Internet Anywhere’s clients range from construction firms and windfarms to hospitals, schools and hotels.
As he told the Daily Express this week, he believes: “No property is a lost cause so businesses and homes should stop settling for download dribbles. Personal and working lives, safety and productivity all depend now on the internet. Take farms. Their hen houses, milk sheds and tractors are all computerised.
“One size does not fit all. The more remote a place, the more complicated the connectivity. Even where a landline is impossible, it’s rarely a case of installing a satellite dish and pointing it in the right direction.
“We take customers through not just what they need at the moment but in future, be that access points, wireless printing, internet voice calls and for those companies so reliant on the internet they must have a back up, which is our system.”
After working for some big telecom firms, John spotted a service gap and a viable market and started Internet Anywhere. He began as so many entrepreneurs do – as a sole trader using a local café as a de facto office. He then joined the Entrepreneurial Spark hub in Glasgow and having learned to work on his business, not in his business, began to grow and develop.
Internet Anywhere now turns over £550,000, and with a new sales team on board is forecasting to double that next year.
Entrepreneurial Spark CEO, Lucy-Rose Walker said: “John has launched a terrific business after spotting a gap in the market and since leaving us is on a real growth trajectory. He is another great example of how we help entrepreneurs on that journey from the corner of the café to the scaled, growing business.
“Working with the Royal Bank of Scotland and other partners like KPMG Enterprise, Dell Technologies and Harper Macleods, who are the best at what they do, allows us to do this by letting our Enablers focus on the mindset of the entrepreneur.”
Artificial Intelligence and deep web specialists AMPLYFI have announced that they have closed their latest equity funding round with a huge £800,000.
Based in Entrepreneurial Spark Powered by NatWest’s Cardiff hub, AMPLYFI specialise in Surface and Deep Web harvesting through their flagship product DataVoyant™, a tool specifically designed to support strategic decision-making.
As reported in Wales Online today, Finance Wales, one of the UK’s largest regional SME investment companies led the funding round, with additional private investment from some of the UK’s most successful investors including Ashley Cooper, co-founder and director of Catalyst Growth Partners. This brings the total funding secured by the start-up in the last four months to £1,200,000.
This second equity round follows an initial investment from Finance Wales in August 2016 and a recent £400,000 ($500,000) unsecured loan from the Welsh Government, which is enabling AMPLFYI to expand their highly-skilled programming team.
Chris Ganje said: “The future of business intelligence lies in delivering high performance, easy to use solutions driven by the most advanced Artificial Intelligence capability. AMPLYFI’s next generation architecture has been purpose-built to address this challenge. This latest round of funding will allow us to continue our exponential growth to meet the needs of our rapidly growing client base.”
Philip Barnes, Investment Executive for Finance Wales’ Technology Venture Investments said: “AMPLYFI is a superbly managed company, with a team of high-class Artificial Intelligence and strategy experts, (their) strong potential for significant growth and profitability made it a perfect fit for our portfolio.”
Entrepreneurial Spark’s Cardiff Enabler Rony Seamons said: “AMPLYFI have been great to work with. They really know their stuff when it comes to Artificial Intelligence but they have been eminently coachable. Chris and Mark have applied what they have learned about the entrepreneurial mindset to their business and have grown as result.
“I’m not surprised to see investors from a variety of Welsh funds prepared to back them. They have taken every opportunity to work closely with our partners NatWest, Dell Technologies, KPMG Enterprise and Pinsent Masons and making them a great example of the kind of entrepreneurs we are trying to build, as they are truly credible, backable and investable.”
Limited places are still available for the next intake in Cardiff in May, if you think you have what it takes to join Entrepreneurial Spark and grow your mindset, apply now by clicking here.
Friction Free Shaving, based in Entrepreneurial Spark Powered by NatWest’s Birmingham hub has secured a seven-figure venture capital investment with Athene Capital LLP to drive growth in partnership with one of Britain’s largest publishing groups, Northern & Shell.
Friction Free Shaving is the world’s first shaving subscription company for women and the £1.25 million investment from funds advised by Athene Capital, comes after prior investment by Seedrs and other business angels. The investment is inclusive of a media partnership with Northern & Shell, which is designed to drive Friction Free Shaving’s ambitious growth plans.
A significant portion will go towards a comprehensive media campaign with Northern & Shell, whose outlets include OK! Magazine, New! Magazine, Express and Star newspapers, together with access to a multi-channel television advertising inventory.
Briar Keen, Co-Founder of Friction Free Shaving said: “We are thrilled about this deal and have already seen some really encouraging results from our early activities with the Northern & Shell media team. With the ongoing support from Northern & Shell and Athene Capital we believe this investment will allow us to treble our subscriber numbers by the end of the year, and fulfil our mission to empower as many women as possible to get a fair deal when it comes to shaving.”
Lloyd Thomas, Managing Partner of Athene Capital said: “The management team at Friction Free Shaving have identified a huge and untapped opportunity in the market of women’s shaving subscriptions. We are very confident in their ability to drive rapid growth and are excited to be backing them.”
Friction Free Shaving has experienced rapid growth since it launched its first set of products 18 months ago, and now records over 8000 actively monthly subscribers. The playful women’s brand follows in the footsteps of a number of successful male shaving subscription brands. The company aims to take a significant portion of the women’s shaving market, estimated to be worth several hundred million pounds in the UK alone.
The company, which is based in the West Midlands, aims to challenge the limited choice and quality of female shaving products currently available on the high street, by providing a more hygienic, convenient and affordable alternative. The business posts high quality women’s shavers and replacement blades through the letterbox each month in return for a subscription, which starts at £5. It has also launched a highly popular women’s shave cream.
Entrepreneurial Spark’s Birmingham Enabler James Powell said: “Friction Free Shaving is such a great concept and they a brilliant example of entrepreneurs who applied the growth mindset and built an amazing business. They have proved themselves totally credible, backable and investable and both the scale and the type of this investment proves that. The media partnership they have secured will be a huge boost for their marketing.”
Do you have a product or idea as good as Fiction Free Shaving? Do you want to develop your entrepreneurial mindset? Click here to find out more.
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